If you’re sick of living hand-to-mouth, here’s how to change your fortunes

It’s been a tough 18 months and if your finances have taken a dent, we’ve put together our top ten tips for increasing your income.

1. Take in a lodger and earn up to £7,500 tax free for your household under the Rent a Room Scheme. This doesn’t have to be full-time. It could just be during the week if you live near a working city or university where someone could benefit from a room let now and again.

2. Take up a side hustle – if you’ve got a skill that people need, why not do some freelance work if you’re not already in business or self-employed? If you earn less than £1,000 through your side hustle in a tax year, you can claim the £1,000 trading allowance and won’t need to pay any tax on this income.

3. If you are employed, have you had a pay rise since the start of the pandemic? If your organisation is doing well and not facing redundancies, could you be due a pay rise or could you enhance your role to take on more responsibility and get paid more? If you don’t ask, you don’t get!

4. If you have driveway space, could you let a parking space via a company like Stash Bee? If you live in a built-up area, parking is probably in demand and you could earn a few quid sharing your space.

5. Fancy seeing your home on TV or in a magazine? How about hiring out your home as a set? Be mindful this could mean having lots of film crew traipsing through your home and while damage is compensated, it can still be disruptive. But at least the fees can be good, so check out Shoot Factory or Find. Lights, camera, action!

6. If you work for yourself, it’s time to work smarter, increase your fees, improve productivity and focus some time on looking at ways to increase your profitability. What other product or service could you offer that your clients will love?

7. Review your investments. Is your cash stuck in a cash ISA or bank account earning next to nothing? Would you like to dabble in the stock market or cryptocurrency? Speak to a financial adviser if you have savings that could be working smarter for you. Be prepared to take risks though as income is not guaranteed to go up and could of course go down if the market changes.

8. If you are of pensionable age, could you access your private pension? Workplace pensions can usually be accessed once you turn 55, with the employer’s permission. Private pensions can usually be accessed when you turn 55, but you may incur penalties for doing so. Make sure you take proper financial advice on this though before you make any withdrawals.

9. Use cash-back sites like Quidco for all your online purchases, or a credit card with a cash-back facility (be mindful of paying interest though so you don’t pay more interest than you earn in cash-back).

10. Find out about government support. If you are a low earner, you could qualify for Universal Credit or if in business you may qualify for a grant or business support via Government and independent bodies such as livery companies and trade association grants. Look out for ‘green’ incentives that can help save energy costs and may be subsidised. Here is some info on grants available.

If you’re struggling financially, now’s the time to do a review of your finances and work out how much money is coming in and going out. Whatever you do, don’t bury your head in the sand. Get comfortable with knowing about your financial situation so you can make some key decisions and if your income is short, we hope these tips will help you top it up.

Words Faye Watts

Looking for expert advice? The Audrey Members’ Club is a whole world of support, coaching and expertise for women through self-employment, changing careers, running a business or launching one. Join us to kickstart your future, whatever that may be.